Tierno, Philip M(ario), Jr. 1943-
TIERNO, Philip M(ario), Jr. 1943-
PERSONAL: Born June 5, 1943, in Brooklyn, NY; son of Philip M. and Phyllis (Tringone) Tierno; married Josephine Martinez, April 2, 1967; children: Alexandra Lorraine, Meredith Anne. Education: Brooklyn College of Pharmacy, Long Island University, B.S., 1965; New York University, M.S., 1974, Ph.D., 1977.
CAREER: Lutheran Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY, microbiologist, 1965-66; Veterans Administration Hospital, Bronx, NY, chief research microbiologist of the hemodialysis unit, 1966-70; Goldwater Memorial Hospital, New York University Medical Center, Franklin D. Roosevelt Island, NY, director of microbiology, 1970-81; Maimonides Medical Center, Brooklyn, associate, microbiologist, 1970-79; Tisch Memorial Hospital, New York University Medical Center, director of microbiology department, 1981—; New York University Medical School, associate professor of microbiology and pathology, 1981—. Adjunct assistant professor at City University of New York, 1974-76, and Bloomfield College, Bloomfield, NJ, 1975-82; consultant to the State of New York's Office of the Attorney General, National Institutes of Health, College of American Pathologists, City of New York Department of Health; New York City Mayor's Task Force on Bioterrorism 2001—; Foundation for Scientific Research in the Public Interest, Staten Island, NY, founder, 1985. Member of civic and community boards and commissions.
MEMBER: AAAS, New York Academy of Scientists, American Academy of Microbiology, American Public Health Association, National Registry of Microbiologists, American Society for Microbiology, Optimists (vice president, Norwood chapter, 1978-95), Phi Sigma, Alpha Epsilon Delta.
The Secret Life of Germs: Observations and Lessons of a Microbe Hunter, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Protect Yourself against Bioterrorism, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2002.
Also contributor of articles to numerous professional scientific and medical journals and also to text books.
SIDELIGHTS: Philip M. Tierno, Jr. is a microbiologist and investigator who promoted the use of safer menstrual products after the relationship between toxic shock syndrome and dioxins in tampons came to be understood in the 1980s. He has also been involved with AIDS research and is an expert on the dangers of germs, from the common cold to the microscopic beginnings of such deadly newsmakers as E. coli, Lyme disease, encephalitis, mad cow, and anthrax.
Tierno has been frequently interviewed about his research involving germs, and in a New Republic article, Hanna Rosin noted that he "may deserve the blame for starting the hysteria. A few years ago, he began swabbing taxis, pay phones, movie theater seats, and restaurant chairs and publishing the results in the newspapers. Tierno himself wipes the receivers of public phones with alcohol swabs, uses paper towels to open the doors of rest rooms, and never rides the subway." A Seattle Times article carried Tierno's advice on the fungal infections, parasites, and diseases that can be picked up by humans from their turtles, birds, cats, and dogs. In avoiding unnecessary disease, Tierno stresses the importance of hand washing. "If you've been only the most casual of hand washers until now, you won't be after reading this book," commented Beth Woodard in the Winston-Salem Journal.
Tierno offers specific advice in his The Secret World of Germs: Observations and Lessons from a Microbe Hunter on food safety and other tips for maintaining health and minimizing contact with germs in and outside the home. He also includes information on how bacteria and viruses are transmitted, as well as the results of some of his field samplings in New York, including those from the engagement ring counter at the upscale Tiffany's. The volume is also a history of how we have come to understand germs over time, beginning with the biblical emphasis on cleanliness.
Tierno also writes about the role of germs in such illnesses as heart disease and ulcers. He notes that the overprescribing of antibiotics resulted in antibiotic-resistant germs becoming more virulent. Library Journal's Elizabeth Williams noted that Tierno "offers a broad overview of the impact of these microbes on the world today." "This germ primer brings the bug into focus while setting even the most jittery hypochondriac's mind at ease," wrote a Publishers Weekly reviewer.
Tierno includes a chapter on germ warfare in The Secret Life of Germs, and his Protect Yourself against Bioterrorism is an entire volume dedicated to the explanation of anthrax and other diseases that could potentially be used against the populace and a guide to protection and preparedness. After the anthrax scare of 2001, Tierno was on call to serve the New York City Mayor's Task Force on Bioterrorism. Francis Ma of the Syracuse, New York Post-Standard covered Tierno's address at Cazenovia College and reported that "Tierno said part of getting over the fear of bioterrorism is education and knowledge." Tierno spoke about anthrax and past outbreaks, how people become infected, and of a new vaccine that has been developed at the Louis Pasteur Institute in Paris, France. He explained how our filtering systems, chlorination, and treatment plants would render impotent any anthrax added to the U.S. water supply.
Tierno was the guest of a CNN.com chat in which participants asked him a number of questions relating to anthrax. Tierno explained the different forms of the disease, the investigation, and future risks from anthrax and smallpox: "I think that the governmental bodies are so alert to what's going on throughout America, so many new plans have been put into effect, so many surveillance systems are operating, I think that we would be able to readily identify any new threat or any new disease that might be perpetrated on us."
In concluding the chat, Tierno pointed out that the late Howard Hughes was obsessed with the fear that a germ would kill him. Tierno said that "without germs, man could not exist on this planet. There would be no food, oxygen, nitrates, no recycling of organic matter, so life could continue. In the beginning was the germ, and we came afterward, believe it or not. Man has accomplished something extraordinary, by being able to explore the gargantuan potential of germs. We are now for the first time harnessing their power for the good of all mankind. In fact, using germs we can accomplish some of the biggest problems facing mankind, disease, hunger, and pollution."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, December 15, 2001, William Beatty, review of The Secret Life of Germs: Observations and Lessons of a Microbe Hunter, p. 690.
Library Journal, January, 2002, Elizabeth Williams, review of The Secret Life of Germs, p. 147.
New Republic, November 10, 1997, Hanna Rosin, "Don't touch This: America's Obsession with Germs," p. 24.
New York Post, November 22, 2001, "Spore Deaths May Have Been Missed," p. 7.
Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY), April 11, 2002, Francis Ma, "Ready to Respond to Terror: Lecturer Tells Cazenovia College Audience That U.S. Needs to Be Prepared to Win 'the Wars of the Future,'" p. 7.
Publishers Weekly, December 10, 2001, review of The Secret Life of Germs, p. 61.
Seattle Times, June 27, 1999, "You Share a Lot with Your Pets—Including Risk of Infection," p. L4.
Winston-Salem Journal, January 13, 2002, Beth Woodard, "Book on Germs Will Have You Reaching for the Soap," p. A20.
CNN.com,http://www.cnn.com/ (November 8, 2001), chat with Tierno.